Gabor Shoes recorded total sales of €377 million in 2018. The figure includes the company's licenses, Gabor Shop & Store and Gabor Footwear. This is almost as high as the €383 million recorded in 2017, which was itself a decrease of 3.3 percent from 2016. Including licenses, the group sold almost 9 million pairs of shoes in 2018.
Revenues for the core Gabor brand declined slightly from €337 million in 2017 to €333 million in 2018. In terms of total shoes, sales were stable from the previous year at around 8 million pairs. The export share also remained stable at 51 percent.
The licensed Camel Active brand recorded sales of €34 million in 2018, a €2 million drop from 2017. Gabor's licenses for Camel bags, shoe care and slippers generated revenues of another €10 million, slightly down from €10.6 million in 2017. The Camel active license runs through the end of 2019, and Gabor Shoes is currently negotiating a renewal of the license that would take effect in 2020.
The German company described 2018 as a positive year, although the weather and other factors posed challenges for its trade partners in Germany and abroad.
The number of employees at the company declined slightly from 3,472 in 2017 to 3,377 in 2018. Some 448 members of the staff are based in Germany, and another 3,000 are based at its two European production centers in Portugal and Slovakia.
The big German shoe manufacturer is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with several events and a new marketing campaign. The history started in 1919 when Pius Gabor, grandfather to the company's current chief executive, Achim Gabor, opened a store for shoes and leathergoods at Gross-Strehlitz in Upper Silesia. He managed the store together with his wife, Lucie.
In 1945, in the last months of the Second World War, they took their children, who were still living at home, to an aunt at Saalfeld in Thuringia. Shortly thereafter, the store was destroyed and Pius and Lucie died.
In 1946, their son Bernhard started to produce shoes using old car tires. Joachim joined his brother in his projects the following year. On Feb. 1, 1949, hoping for a fresh start in West Germany, Joachim and Bernhard Gabor created the B. & J. Gabor shoe factory for women's shoes in Barmstedt, near Hamburg. They rented barracks and used small machines to produce simple footwear – the so-called “everybody's shoes” – with the leather that the brothers received from the Marshall Plan.
With the economic upswing, these shoe styles began to diverge from the self-image of the German population, and the two brothers considered closing down their business. Traveling to the U.S., however, Bernhard came across the California shoe construction and design, and brought the new type of production to Germany. Comfortable shoes were now easy to manufacture with little mechanical expenditure. At the same time, Joachim dealt with the fashion of the time. He sold the shoes to a salesmen living in the area, who travelled the region on his bike. The shoes in the California style were very popular, and soon retailers offered payment in advance to get them.
With increasing sales, the brothers were able to build a new company-owned factory in Barmstedt in 1952, followed by production sites in Germany and abroad. In 1966, the company moved its headquarters to Rosenheim in Bavaria. Bernhard passed away in the same year, and Joachim Gabor continued to manage the business on his own. In 2005, his son Achim Gabor took over the company's management. Under him, the company expanded its logistic and production sites in Portugal and Slovakia. In 2017, Gabor opened its first online store for retailers.
Today, Gabor sells its shoes to more than 5,000 shoe retailers in over 60 countries. Shoes sold outside Germany represent 50 percent of the overall production.